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Top 5 Unusual Cruise Destinations

For many who are considering booking a cruise holiday, often the first destinations that spring to mind are sun soaked beach breaks in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.

A Sunny Cruise
A Sunny Cruise somewhere unexpected could be just what the doctor ordered!

Whilst cruise holidays are a great way to explore the stunning attractions these locations have to offer, the fantastic advantage of cruises is that the world is effectively your oyster. When cruising, travelling is made simple. Provided the area is accessible by water, there are hundreds of destinations to visit and experience cross the globe.

Many of these are once-in-a-lifetime places to holiday in and by choosing a cruise vacation, holidaymakers can take advantage of the multitude of must-see attractions and natural phenomenon our planet has to offer. With this in mind, you may want to research into what unusual cruise destinations are available and what each of these unique locations has to offer. Listed below are five of the top unusual cruise destinations that are guaranteed to ensure you have a holiday with a difference.

1. A North Pole Expedition:

As the North Pole is one of the world’s most unexplored areas, taking an expedition cruise to the Arctic is as different and unique as they come. Unsurprisingly, the North Pole offers some of the most stunning wildlife scenes and the breathtaking landscapes of ice and midnight sun are certainly something to experience first hand. Holidaymakers can witness flocks of seabirds; sun-worshipping seals and walruses, as well as have the potential to spot the elusive polar bear. Not only that, those who travel to the North Pole can quite literally be ‘on top of the world’ as you are able to stand at your unique 90-degree North point. In addition, the cruise ships that travel to the Arctic are a little different to the ships that are home to holidaymakers travelling to other parts of the world; to plough through the ice at the North Pole, it is necessary that the cruises take place on powerful icebreakers. These triumphs of engineering are specially designed to break through the ice in the Arctic as well as provide cruise-goers with a comfortable and luxurious life on board.

cruising
A Luxurious cruise ship in the North Atlantic

2. River Cruise in South Asia:

Cruises in Asia are relatively new; however this area is home to some of the most spectacular natural phenomenon across the globe. One of the best ways to explore South Asia is to take a river cruise, and the Mekong River is an ideal waterway for this purpose. As one of the world’s most vast water systems, the Mekong runs through China, Vietnam and Cambodia, which are all renowned for their beautiful natural scenes and interesting cultures. There is a huge range of attractions to visit; holidaymakers can explore historically significant cities like Saigon or simply browse the colourful trinkets in the floating markets along the river, for example. In terms of wildlife, the Mekong is hugely diverse and supports plant life and animals that are rare in other parts of the world. Cruise-goers can have the opportunity to spot endangered species like the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Giant Catfish as well as the famous Mekong river palm trees, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The cruise ships on the Mekong are also unique and have been described as being ‘fairytale like’ by travellers because of their distinctive character.

The Kerala Backwaters
South Asia has a delighful number of extraordinary sights

3. The Cape Coast in South Africa:

Historically, Africa was known as the final frontier of discovery and in terms of travel, it remains a place shrouded in fascination and mystery. People across the globe are captivated by the range of cultures, landscapes and wildlife species the continent has to offer and for this reason, cruises to African countries have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many of Africa’s most beautiful countries can be reached by water, and holidaymakers should consider sailing to South Africa when booking a cruise holiday. The country is diverse, both in terms of its people and its landscape; however it is renowned for it’s  exceptional beaches and African sunshine.

Exploring the Cape Coast is particularly impressive for travellers looking for a romantic cruise. The world-famous Table Mountain is the perfect romantic location, boasting majestic views across the coastline and city. Additionally, the Cape Coast is famous for its vineyards and winemaking, meaning couples can indulge in winetasting amongst the stunning scenery of South Africa’s coast. Other ports within the country are also well worth a visit, with Port Elizabeth offering some of the world’s most beautiful wild beaches and the bright lights of Durban providing glitzy hotels and world class gambling.

Table Mountain
A Stunning Photo of Table Mountain in South Africa

4. The Suez Canal and the Middle East:

 

Sailing through the Suez Canal and exploring the countries in the Middle East is one of the world’s most beautiful and historically significant journeys. The Middle East is world renowned as being the place where Christianity originated and it is also home to some of the globe’s most ancient civilisations. Travellers to this area can experience diverse examples of Middle Eastern architecture, significant religious sites and a plethora of stunning beaches.

For people that choose to take  cruises to the Middle East, it is this diversity of scenery that often appeals most. From the tallest building in Dubai to the ancient pyramids in Egypt, there is a huge range of places to visit and things to see in this area. Because of this, cruising can be the best way to discover what the countries in the Middle East have to offer. Holidaymakers can sail to a number of the Arab Emirates countries (like Dubai or Muscat), visit the stunning city of Aqaba in Jordan and explore the North African ports. It is worth noting that many of the countries in the Middle East are religiously conservative, so holidaymakers should bear in mind that there may be clothing requirements within some of the countries. Women in particular should ensure that they are covered up and headscarves should always be worn when entering a mosque.

Yes, Dubai really is as spectacular at night as it is in the day
Dubai is just as stunning at night

5. The British Isles:

When choosing a cruise holiday, many people would automatically think about heading abroad; however, taking a cruise around the British Isles is a great way of exploring what our home country has to offer. There is always something to discover in Britain, whether it be an old castle filled with history or a colony of puffins off the coast of Scotland, so it is a good idea to look into what is on offer. Furthermore, cities in Britain are renowned across the world for being historically significant, full of culture and architecturally stunning, so cruising can be best way of seeing places along the coast (like Edinburgh, Southampton and Dublin). Britain is also famed for the range of diverse eco-systems on its coastlines and holidaymakers have the opportunity to see picturesque natural scenery, a variety of wildlife and plant life. Whilst the weather can’t always be counted upon in Britain, cruising around the British Isles certainly is a cheaper alternative to cruises abroad, but it does not have to mean you compromise on your holiday experience. Being able to relax in the luxury onboard a cruise ship as well as exploring interesting places en route is what cruising is all about, so it is a good idea to look into what British cruises are available.

Cruise around the British Isles
Cruise around Great Britain

These are just a few of the fantastic unusual cruise destinations worth a visit across the world and with a bit of research and imagination, it is simple to find a holiday with a difference. With so many cultures to explore; natural wonders to see and unique experiences to have, it is often simply a case of choosing the right cruise to suit your needs. Once you’ve decided which destination to visit, the only thing left to decide is whether you’re interested in the comfort of a luxury cruiser or a cruise that is a little bit more budget friendly before booking. Cruises are one of the best ways to explore everything the world has to offer, so travellers should seriously consider what is on offer. For more inspiration, browse our Top Ten Cruises For 2013 article.

This Cruise guide was written by Claire Cavanagh.

 

 

 

 

Cruise to Africa: Cairo, Egypt, Itineraries & Excursions on an African Cruise

African
African cruises are increasing in popularity

The origin of all human life as well as one of the largest and most fertile land masses in the world, Africa is on many people’s must-see lists. However, with few ports on the continent capable of supporting a sizeable cruise ship, most cruise itineraries that include Africa will also visit other countries, unless on a Nile River cruise. Many people will choose to visit ports in North Africa (Cairo, Safaga) as part of a wider Africa and Middle East cruise, giving them the chance to experience an even wider range of cultures in a short period of time.

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The most popular part of Africa for cruising is without a doubt Egypt and whether you stick to the coast line to see great cities like Cairo or head up the Nile to the ancient Valley of the Kings there are a great many show stopping experiences to be had on a North African cruise. The Suez Canal can also be used for easy access to the Middle East with countries like Jordan and the Emirates a natural extension on many African cruises.

Egypt Cruise
The Egyptian Pyramids are a very popular day excursion

On the other hand, a Nile cruise gives you the opportunity to sample all of the ancient architecture that has made Egypt great. From its earliest beginnings the entire country has relied on the waters of the River Nile, meaning that about 80% of its people live within it and almost all of ancient civilization was located near to its banks. The obvious benefit of that for cruise lovers is that you can see all of the most significant parts of the country by boat.

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Other popular cruise regions in Africa include the ports around Cape Town in South Africa as well as a cluster of cruise ports in French West Africa, understandably more popular amongst French-speaking tourists. Of all of the cities of Africa, Cape Town is one of the most culturally and socially diverse as well as being one of the more European-influenced cities. The city skyline is dominated by the world-famous Table Mountain, part of Table Mountain National Park. Tourists can hike or take a cable car to the top which commands some of the most majestic views in the history of tourist snapshots – the entirety of the city below, the sea and a range of other sister mountains are visible from there. The town is also well known for its white sand beaches and, of course, the African sunshine.

Table Mountain
Table Mountain National Park

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Other ports near Cape Town include Durban. Durban is the busiest port town in South Africa and when you see the vast stretches of golden beaches you won’t need to wonder why. The stretch of sand that passes through the city is known as the Golden Mile and is flanked by a promenade lined with glitzy hotels and restaurants. Gambling lovers will appreciate the Suncoast Casino located on the Golden Mile itself and offering high-end gaming from slots to card tables with everything in between.

As the country continues to develop you can expect more and more ports to begin to open up as well as an increasing number of operators offering itineraries in the area. For now, the most popular cruise options will, without a doubt, remain in Northern Africa with exciting forays into the Middle East.

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